Vintage Hot Rods at Pendine Speed TrialsSeptember 2013 was another momentous occasion for the small, but historically important, Welsh village of Pendine, on the beautiful South Wales coastline. The Vintage Hot Rod Association had managed to organize a beach-run speed trial, the spirit of which had not been seen there for many, many years. In an age of absurd levels of red-tape (that must surely prevent many events like this even getting off the ground?) I must truely take my hat off to Carmarthenshire Council in encouraging such an historic event. The breathtaking views in an idyllic location are a real jewel in the crown for the area. If the council do not take advantage of all the publicity I feel an event like this will draw, then they missing a very big point. I have seen some of the amazing photographs already appearing on the web and the comments from across the pond are VERY encouraging. This coastline is stunning and unique. Having been to Spalding, a few weeks previously, for the amazing Kustom Kulture Blastoff event; I was surprised to see so many of the vehicles that were now here on these shores. It made me realize that, perhaps, I am not so crazy in wanting to travel to events countrywide that fire up my passion for all things automotive. Arriving at the car park next to the road I spotted a blue Chevrolet Nova, plus a few Rods and Customs - so I knew this was where I would spend several hours in good company. Moving on to the parking area overlooking the beach I spotted an El-Camino based on a '60's Impala, a few low-rider lead sleds, a British Built Ford Popular 'Sit-up-and-Beg' Hot Rod, plus an amazing array of proper vintage tin representing Morris, Ford to name but a few. As soon as I realized we were allowed to park on the beach itself I felt the urge to become part of the crowd assembled there and parked the Dorchester next to a row of vehicles mainly dating from the 20's through to the '70's. To think this 7 mile stretch of golden sand is where Malcom Campbell and Parry Thomas attempted the World Land Speed Record in the 1920's. I did not have tickets for the paddock area (pity . . .) but it soon became apparent that the majority of these die-hard vintage rodders did not fetch their cherished vehicles on a trailer. One word - RESPECT. Especially as I soon learnt that they had traveled from all over the country to be there that September Weekend. The paddock area was full of really cool rides and historically important period hot rods. (I believe there were over 80 vehicles in there !) Although the actual vintage speed trial racing event was for pre 1949 vehicles (with drum brakes, leaf sprung suspension, flat head motors, etc) the paddock area displayed quite a few '40's and 50's vehicles and except for the modern looking wire fence panels it looked like we'd all stepped back in time. Absolutely Magical !
'32 Ford made in Great Britain
Looking over a 1932 Ford recently I was intrigued to discover some clever little automotive design features. This Vintage Model B Saloon had been barn stored for many years, previously saved from becoming a hot rod project and had recently acquired a fresh MOT pass certificate. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a lift to a local collector car meet and not only was our arrival noted as the oldest vehicle that day, but also the most original vehicle there.
With 6 volt electrics, a 3.3 litre in-line 4 cylinder engine, 3 speed manual gearbox, rod operated drum brakes, ingenious dashboard mounted fuel gauge, fabric roof, single electric windscreen wiper arm (not vacuum operated), cowl mounted ram-air interior fresh air system (a blast to operate!), pull-cable operated electric starter motor, friction damper type engine steady . . . and of course without indicator turn signals and seat-belts it was BASIC, but tremendous fun to travel in.
And of course, everything worked as it should. Try putting any number of modern vehicles to an 80 year “longevity test” & see how many last. And THAT is just the point about this particular car – you just could not replicate 80 years of use by restoring it. The faded paintwork, the home-made running board repairs, the eaten away fabric interior, the exposed headlining . . . it just shouts “I will survive”. There just isn’t an in-car entertainment system to play Gloria Gaynor on.
With thoughtful engineering it was a delight to see easily accessible coolant draining taps, a mechanical pull start device to throw the energised starter pinion into mesh with the flywheel ring gear, plug leads that bolt on, grease nipples on anything that moves and a forward opening hinged windshield. The 3.3 litre motor had oodles of Torque – enough to climb a 1 in 5 section of road, 2 up, in top gear. You could almost count the individual cylinders firing! For sheer attention grabbing status - forget exotic supercars, Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, Lotus, Noble, Zonda, Koennesig, Aston Martin and such like
. . . This British Built 1932 Ford Model B Saloon had ALL the attention. Especially when we reached the heady speed of 57 mph in the “fast lane” overtaking more “modern” machinery. Just don’t attempt to negotiate bends or roundabouts at speed, or whilst braking. Oh, also on the topic of changing direction - the rear hinged “suicide” doors take some getting used to – you tend not to want to lean your arm on those . . . I’m sure they were a more secure fit upon leaving Ford’s mass production Lines – 80 years without any sagging bodywork would be pretty amazing – I mean some people with more money than sense have cosmetic lifts in their thirties, apparently. ’32 – a proud heritage for this particular model, especially as I believe she is number 7 off the Midlands area production line, soon after even the U.K. built Model B’s throbbed to the sound of a Vee-Eight burble.
Vehicle Corrosion (rust) RepairsWhen rust appears on your cherished vehicle, be it a classic, vintage or modern it is time to take stock and decide whether repair or restoration to original standard is required.
Your budget, working facilities, tools and equipment and skill level / time available means that sometimes repair work takes precedence over fabrication work to original-spec (restoration) standards. This was certainly the case for the owner of the Peugeot hatchback pictured here, who due to illness and budget restrictions, opted for a solid repair rather than replication of what was missing !
Following time spent making card patterns, transferring the shapes to steel sheet, removing corroded areas and surrounding sealant, trial fitting handmade parts and removing combustible materials from the interior . . . the fabricated repair pieces were initially tack welded into place and then continuously welded for strength.
Following application of corrosion inhibiting paint and seam sealer (to prevent water ingress) a coat of paint was applied to the rebuilt chassis area and surrounding under-body area.
Rust preventing wax coating, applied by brush or spray sticks to the vehicle underside. Under-body rustproofing wax helps stop corrosion, displaces water and moisture, adds surface protection and can creep over scratched or lightly damaged areas to self heal. Rustproofing waxes come in various viscosity's (or thicknesses) and may need warming up in a bucket of hot water in order to thin out sufficiently to flow out correctly thorough an applicator gun or spray nozzle. For more info on corrosion prevention click the blue highlighted link.
The Wedge, VW T25 T3 TransporterThe humble, but rather rugged, T3 transporter seems as popular now as ever. T25's, as they are more commonly known, make fantastic workhorses and are to be seen in abundance at Dub festivals and Volkswagen shows countrywide.
Variants include types known as panel vans, multivan, single cab pick ups, campers, crew cab pick ups (DoKa's), kombi day vans, caravelle minibuses, vanagon's, high tops and even coach-built pick up models with detachable stand-alone living quarters as well as Karmann coach built models. German built T25's first appeared in 1979 until final production in 1992. However the model was still produced for the South African market as recently as 2002. Spare parts are generally not a problem!
Synchro (four wheel drive models) are popular with off road enthusiasts for green lane exploits and those living in remote areas and make for a highly capable all wheel drive vehicle with excellent payload capabilities. T25 Transporters have an engine bay apparently originally designed to take an Oettinger flat six engine (later released as the WBX-6 in a handful of Vanagon's). No wonder then that everything from Porsche flat six boxer motors to Audi Bi-turbo v6's have been fitted by enthusiasts of VW's successor to the type 2. Heavy duty construction, spacious cabins, ample boot "locker" area and a payload of 1 tonne make for a practical pick-up model, though the early 1.6 CS engined diesel model won't win any traffic light Grand-Prix races with it's 50 hp engine ! With so many specialists about catering for the many remaining variants still in daily use expect to pass a few on your travels. Popular modifications include the fitment of Subaru's 4 cylinder boxer engine in petrol (and rarely diesel) forms from both turbo charged Impreza and naturally aspirated Legacy models.
Cool sounds combined with ultra-cool retro looks.
It's a dub thing and I don't quite understand it , either !
How to get the best from your Compression TesterIn order for an accurate assessment of the health of the engine to take place the engine should be up to operating temperature (metal expands under heat allowing valves and piston rings to seal properly, running clearances to settle, etc.) Without doubt on a Side-valve or Overhead valve configuration the valve clearances and valve (camshaft) timing should be correctly adjusted. Similarly, on those engines with automatic (hydraulic "bucket" type adjusters they should be "primed and pumped" (via good oil pressure under cranking) and not "sticky" - noticeable after a rebuild. In the case of, say, an Overhead Camshaft arrangement (O.H.C.) with manually adjustable "shims" the clearances should be "shimmed-up" according to manufacturers specification. Always good policy to check the dipstick (engine sump) oil level, oil the valve gear and manually turn the engine over (removing the plugs helps a LOT) on any engine that has stood motionless a while . . . Importantly - it is the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves that allow the engine to "breathe". Likewise the air intake filter should be clean / free from obstruction and remember that a partially blocked (rusty / damaged) exhaust system will restrict the airflow leaving the engine. It is essential that you disconnect the ignition coil to avoid stray sparks as, in the case of a Spark Ignition engine, there will be open cylinders (spark plugs removed) and fuel vapours. The throttle should be held fully open whilst allowing the engine to "crank over" around 10 times, until a steady reading appears on the test-gauge. So you need to make sure the vehicle's battery is fully charged - especially if you own 6 cylinder (or greater !) engined vehicle. And the compression testing device needs to screwed firmly into the cylinder access point (spark plug hole or glow plug aperture) with a good seal ("O" ring or equivalent) to achieve accurate readings. Low compression readings are usually the result of piston (or piston ring) problems / worn cylinder bores and /or worn & damaged valves (usually "exhaust" valves). Exhaust valves tend to suffer before inlet valves as they operate in very harsh working conditions - the vulnerable edges of the valve seats are exposed to VERY hot combustion gases whilst they are open and lifted off their valve seat . . . Some of the likely causes of valve failure include incorrect valve timing / incorrect fuel type or grade, incorrect valve clearances, incorrect fuel metering and timing chain (or belt) failure. Worn piston rings can be as a result of a whole host of things like infrequent oil changes, over-revving, "hard" driving before the engine's warmed up, incorrect oil grade, over-fueling / lots of short (therefore "COLD" rich fuel) runs, incorrect ignition timing (pre-ignition / detonation), incorrect fuel grade or type of fuel . . . to name but a few ! If the readings you obtain are low, by adding a SMALL amount of oil to the cylinder bore being tested you can assess the damage prior to a strip-down. If the compression improves with the addition of oil then there are piston / ring / bore issues to deal with. No increase in the pressure reading points to the valve gear being at fault or possible head gasket issues. Higher than normal results could be due to excess compression ratio (possibly following a head or block "skim" on a milling machine) foreign body within the cylinder, incorrect spark plug length, over-sized valves or the addition of some of the "liquid engine restorers" that can partially fill the "bowl" or relieved areas of a piston crown . . . Hopefully this brief article on compression testing has nourished you with food for thought when you go to survey a prospective purchase !
Where does the Compression take Place?In an internal combustion engine the combustion chamber is the area where the air & fuel mixture ignites to provide a powerful explosion for the power (work) stroke. The combustion chamber can be designed into the cylinder head face, the piston crown, or a combination of the two.
Air & fuel are forced into the smaller area of the combustion chamber during the compression stroke, being acted upon by the piston movement. The effect of this is to force the molecules of air and fuel "gas" TIGHTLY TOGETHER increasing temperature in the process. In a compression ignition (C.I.) or diesel engine the effect of high compression and high temperatures causes the air / fuel mix to self-ignite . . . whilst on a petrol, methanol-mix or Liquified Petroleum Gas powered engine we need the assistance of a very high voltage spark to ignite the mixture at a specific time . . . The amount by which the air/fuel mixture is compressed is determined by the compression ratio (CR) of the engine design. In simple terms if air enters the engine at atmospheric pressure, (1 Bar or around 14.7 pounds per square inch [PSI], or 1 atmosphere at sea level), then a CR of 10:1 would give you a theoretical in-cylinder compression reading of approximately 147 PSI under test with a compression tester. In reality due to of factors like resistance to airflow & the number of valves, valve (camshaft) timing, intake and exhaust design, etc, this figure will probably be different to that quoted by the classic vehicles' manufacturer technical data. - But the original maker's data is the most accurate guide for a "standard" (not modified or "tuned") engine. There are many types of combustion chamber and cylinder head design, it is a hot topic amongst engine manufacturers and professional tuning companies, as this is the area where the power in relation to torque and good engine efficiency is forefront.
Underpinning knowledge for Automotive ElectricsIt is often said that you can not see it, smell it, hear it or taste it . . . but touch enough of it and you may well see stars . . . or worse. If there is one area of vehicle ownership that causes much anguish and gnashing of teeth it is the problems associated with Automotive Electrics. In order to grasp what is going on in any given situation of repair, replacement or fault finding you need to have a basic understanding of the relationship between:
- Voltage (also known as "volt", "potential", "potential difference", "pd", "V", "tension", "pressure"),
- Current ("Amps", "Amperes", "A", "Flow", "Electron flow", "Direct current, "Alternating current")
- Resistance ("Ohms", "Ω", "OMEGA", "Restriction", "Opposition to current flow").
Following on from these you can learn about electrical power ("Watts, "W", "Power") and, with a little maths, work out what readings your electrical multi-meter should be giving you - even when the circuit is not "live" . . . Plus a grasp of how to properly use basic electrical fault-finding equipment, like multi-meters, test lamps and for the more advanced user - logic probes and oscilloscopes and where relevant electronic code readers and digital diagnostic equipment
- For example, you MUST perform resistance checks on a NON-LIVE circuit - for example when checking the Primary and Secondary Ignition Coil resistances.
- By using a water analogy we can quickly establish how volts, amps and ohms interrelate.
- Think of Voltage in terms of the pressure, or pushing force acting on the flow of water through a pipe, (or current along a wire).
- Think of Current as the flow of water going though a pipe / or flow of electricity through a wire.
- The thicker the cables the easier for the current to flow (compare the flow of water through a hose pipe to that of a mains sewer pipe - the former has more resistance than the latter!)
- Flow of electrons is deemed as "current flow".
- Think of electrical Resistance as the opposition to the electron flow . . . so despite having a large pressure, if the resistance is also high you will not achieve the flow !
- In the case of high resistance, in electrical terms, heat will be generated . . . so trying to push a large amount of amps though a thin wire will result in melt-down and the risk of electrical fires.
- So by having a large "storage device" ("battery" or "water header tank") we have a large pressure reserve or potential to actively encourage the flow of electrons through (and around) the wires.
- Yes, some electrons flow around the outside of the wires, too !
- The electrons coming from the battery want to find the easiest way back to the battery (to complete the circuit) so we need darn good insulation on our wiring looms, HT Spark plug cables, starter and charging system cables, etc.
- Or we get "short circuits", which is where the gnashing of teeth plays a part!
A 24 volt battery (or group of "cells" infact !) will have a higher pressure than a 6 volt battery.
High power devices like a starter motor require a LOT of current (typically 250 to 400 amps) to crank an engine.
- So we need spot-on connections (poor connection = high resistance = power loss = heat = wailing and gnashing of teeth = visit to dentist and counsellor = more money spent = less money for our project vehicle . . . .
I hope this introduction has been useful to you and maybe given you the urge to learn to master the mystery of "Electrickery" for yourself !
Vehicle Trim and BrightwareI sometimes behave like a Magpie when it comes to viewing collectors cars at shows up & down the country. I suddenly have an urge for all things bright and shiny, but unlike Magpie's it is not to attract the females to a nesting place. I just LOVE chromed objects - bumpers and grilles especially. The sheer size and thickness of metal of many 1950's and 1960's American examples is astonishing, with Cadillac and Chevrolet some of the biggest extroverts. British cars of those era's, too, had their fair share of brightware. Humber's Super Snipe, Humber's Hawk, Vauxhall's "F" type Victor, Ford's Consul, Zephyr, Zodiac, Wolseley Six, Riley's Pathfinder, Austin's Princess, to name but a few - all had acres of chrome ! A word of caution - if the panel alignment and door gaps are poor then the addition of side trims will accentuate the visual disappointment ! When you survey your next "dream ride" take a GOOD look at the trim - as the cost of replacement or repair can be horrendous. The trim can be made from a variety of materials. The more common ones include:
- Chrome Plated Mazak (or "Pot-Metal") - previously used widely for boot/bonnet hinge applications, badges, dashboard switch bezel surrounds, bonnet badges, door handles and window winders. Pitts (a form of corrosion) over time and hard to repair effectively.
- Stainless Steel - usually hollow "pressed items" (due to metal density and weight) like side trims, lamp surrounds, grilles, dashboard mouldings and windscreen surrounds. Can be difficult to straighten out dings and dents due to it's stiffness / rigidity.
- Aluminium / Aluminum - Grilles, badges, handles, body trim, lamp surrounds, convertible hood fixtures, windscreen surrounds / mouldings. Aluminium will oxidize heavily and eventually decay to a white powder state of not looked after . . . It has a different electrical charge to mild steel and where the two bare (unprotected) metals meet Galvanic corrosion will occur in the presence of moisture and air.
- "Chrome" plated Plastics - There are a few manufacturers who since about the mid-1960's have chosen to electroplate plastics. There are a few specialist companies who specialize in electroplating virtually anything . . . including mobile phone cases, so if replacements are hard to source give them a try.